Eight children hurt in car crash horror

Emily DennisEight schoolchildren are recovering in hospital after a car mounted a pavement and ploughed into them during a supervised walk around their village.Firefighter's blog on crashEmily Dennis

Eight schoolchildren are recovering in hospital after a car mounted a pavement and ploughed into them during a supervised walk around their village.

Six ambulance crews, firefighters and an RAF helicopter were sent to the scene after the car ploughed into a group of year 5 pupils from Worlingham Middle School, near Beccles.

Three of those struck were said to have been critically injured, with one thought to have suffered broken legs and another a broken pelvis.

It was not thought that any of the injuries were life-threatening.

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Following the crash a 40-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and was being questioned by police.

The smash occurred close to the All Saint's Church, where the funeral service of a 21-year-old man killed in a road accident was temporarily halted as mourners went to help.

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A man on his way to the funeral was also hurt and several other children suffered minor injuries.

Speaking outside Worlingham Middle School, headteacher Mike Croft described it as a 'tough day' and said: 'You cannot imagine anything worse than going down there and finding the children like that. It was mayhem when I got down there. It is not a day I want to remember.'

He said that a female teacher and a female teaching assistant who were accompanying the group of 18 children, who were new to the school, were shocked but unhurt.

'They were all nine. They had just started at the school a couple of weeks ago - they are our intake of millennium babies,' said Mr Croft.

The drama unfolded shortly before 2pm on Friday.

The youngsters were on a supervised walk aimed at introducing them to the local area.

About 20 pupils, accompanied by a female teacher and female teaching assistant, were walking along the pavement when the car crossed the road and mowed into the youngsters.

An ambulance service spokeswoman said that three children were taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston with serious injuries. Three children and a 21-year-old man were taken to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital with what have been described as non life-threatening injuries.

Two more children were taken to Beccles Hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Ambulance crews dealt with 12 walking wounded at the scene.

Mr Croft added: 'We immediately put our critical incident plan into use, providing staff and information for the emergency services, and we informed the local authority.

'We put ourselves at the disposal of the emergency services, whilst at the same time, ensuring every child was appropriately supported. Parents were informed as quickly as possible.

'Counsellors were called to the scene and subsequently attended the school. They will also be attending the school on Monday.

'We already understand how shocked the local community is and we have received messages of support.

'At this point our focus is on the children in hoping they make a quick recovery.'

Some of the mourners from the funeral who were close to the scene of the crash rushed to help free people from underneath the car.

One man said: 'I just heard this sound like traffic cones going under the car, then I looked round and there was a man trapped underneath the wheel. The guy was half way under the car. We picked the car up and got three or four children from underneath the car.'

Another man who helped lift the vehicle, said: 'A lot of them had a lot of blood and injuries. Everyone was in shock - there was a lot of screaming.'

He added: 'We were waiting for the funeral to start. We were just the other side of the wall. If the wall hadn't been there the car would have hit the other people waiting for the service.'

An ambulance service spokeswoman said that the female driver of the blue Nissan, which was the only vehicle involved, was in shock but uninjured.

A Suffolk police spokesman said that a 40-year-old woman from Lowestoft remains in custody at Lowestoft police station after being arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Residents from the nearby area rallied to look after the uninjured children following the crash until their parents could collect them.

One neighbour, who lives close to the scene, said: 'I was in the house and heard the most horrendous sound and belted outside. I got blankets for them and brought them here just to keep them safe and away from the roadside.'

Six ambulance crews were sent to the scene and an RAF helicopter from Kinloss in Scotland that went via RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire to pick up medical personnel. Two of the casualties were taken to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital by Sea King helicopter. Four Suffolk fire crews attended and helped paramedics with first aid.

Andreas Djiakouris, of the East of England Ambulance Service, said: 'Every single one of our crew who were at the scene had their hands full from the minute they got there to the minute they left and a big thanks goes to them. They did a fantastic job in traumatic circumstances and ensured it went as smoothly as it possibly could. We now have to think of their welfare as any incident involving children involves a lot of trauma.'

It is believed that the funeral service, for Nathan Beglarian 21, who died in a crash just over two weeks ago, was delayed but then went ahead.

Firefighter's blog on crash

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